Review – Inferior: How Science Got Women Wrong

Posted 16 October, 2017 by Nikki in Reviews / 4 Comments

Cover of Inferior by Angela SainiInferior: How Science Got Women Wrong, Angela Saini

There’s a lot of science (and pseudo-science) out there about gender differences and how they affect the way we think. Intelligent people, male and female, often disagree about what exactly it all means, and how evolution has selected for male promiscuity, female passivity, and a host of other stereotypes about the sexes.

Saini has a go at untangling some of this, discussing inherent bias in the researchers looking at this kind of thing, and alternate models that are available for understanding gender differences. She’s definitely successful at making the conversation more complex. For example, a lot of theories have rested on similarities between humans and their close relatives, chimpanzees. Saini points out that other research has shown that bonobos are equally closely related to us, and they have an entirely different social structure.

It seems that easy answers aren’t available, but there are many theories, with supporting evidence, that suggest women have been equally important in forming the human race. That would be my belief, simply because (as Saini points out) pregnancy and childbirth are definitely an important point at which selection will act, particularly in humans where we seem to be dependent on having other support.

An interesting read, but nothing that I think is revolutionary or likely to convince people that male and female brains aren’t physically different in structure. Note: if you think of gender as being a spectrum rather than a binary, be aware that this book definitely treats it as a binary with two distinct sexes. It doesn’t touch on transgender men/women at all.

Rating: 3/5

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4 Responses to “Review – Inferior: How Science Got Women Wrong”

  1. I think that your closing comment on viewing gender as a spectrum rather than a continuum is very helpful in looking at this issue. But even a continuum is better than the binary model that too many people accept, especially when a yawning chasm is postulated between two poles marked Female and Male.
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